Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
dir Eric Brevig
scr Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
with Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, Seth Meyers, Jean Michel Pare, Jane Wheeler, Frank Fontaine, Giancarlo Caltabiano, Kaniehtiio Horn, Garth Gilker
release US/UK 11.Jul.08
08/US New Line 1h32
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Going deep: Fraser, Hutcherson and Briem

fraser hutcherson meyers

See also:
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Journey to the Center of the Earth Using the Jules Verne novel as both a template and a plot device, this lively adventure is colourful good fun on the big screen, especially in 3D. Although only kids will fall for the bloodless violence and corny plot points.

Trevor (Fraser) is a university professor carrying on the work of his brother Max (Pare in flashbacks), who went missing 10 years ago trying to prove Verne's theories. But when all the seismic activity lines up. Trevor is taking care of his surly 13-year-old nephew Sean (Hutcherson). So they both head to Iceland to investigate. There they meet Hannah (Briem) a mountain guide who takes them up a nearby volcano. Through a series of misadventures they end up following Max's footsteps down to Verne's hidden world.

By taking such a childish approach to the story, there's not any suspense at all. Even with all the perilous things this trio face, we know they'll all survive unharmed, so the film's genuinely terrifying set pieces have no teeth. Even though everything that attacks them does--angry dinosaurs, flying giant piranhas, carnivorous plants. Not to mention all the things that jut into our faces in 3D, from bug antennae to a yo-yo to T-Rex slime.

All of this gives the film a likeably goofy B-movie vibe, with a light, comical tone, fun science and witty action. Most of the set pieces are so silly and familiar that it's impossible to suspend disbelief. An underground runaway mine-car chase is a direct lift from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, while the dinosaur encounter feels like an outtake from Jurassic Park.

And there's also the problem of the way the filmmakers cut around anything even remotely dark or inconvenient, which completely removes all sense of danger or excitement. Of course Fraser has proved in the past that he can bring this kind of thing to life with that sparkle in his eye. Hutcherson remains one of the best child actors around, delivering a real performance even when things get deeply contrived. And their three-way chemistry with the feisty Briem works perfectly. In other words, strong characters keep us watching this enjoyably ridiculous romp.

cert pg themes, suspense, some violence 7.Jul.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall